Annual report 2001
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PLAAS continues to grow and to take on new projects and staff. This presents a number of challenges, not least of which is the sustainability of such growth. The year 2001 saw the completion of a twelve month-long ‘organisational change process’ which addressed key issues of institutional sustainability. This resulted in new governance and management structures, revised salary scales and conditions of service in line with those of the university, and staff contracts that offer a degree of security of tenure despite the vicissitudes of external donor funding. By the end of the year most of the new systems and procedures were in operation, bringing a sense of solid foundations and greater stability. One of our innovations was to cluster researchers and projects into ‘focus areas’ co-ordinated by senior researchers. We hope that this will facilitate more effective links between individual projects, encourage coherence in our research, training and policy engagement, and facilitate strategic planning. The five focus areas are: land reform; agro-food regimes; community-based natural resource management (CBNRM); rural governance; and chronic poverty and development policy. A major new focus for PLAAS in 2001 was the post-graduate teaching programme. Twelve students registered for the Post-Graduate Diploma in Land and Agrarian Studies, eleven completed the year, and three qualified to proceed to the MPhil. The teaching programme is carried out in collaboration with a number of other institutions and university teaching departments, giving it a truly multi-disciplinary character.